Monday, October 29, 2007

Reading Journal: "North River"

I loved this book. Pete Hamill is a master of his craft. His stories evoke such a realistic feeling of bygone eras that you feel like you're there, but he always slips in a bit of magic, too, in letting you into the minds of his characters.

This book is set in the New York of 1934 in the depths of the Depression. Dr. Delaney tends his patients as best he can while wondering whether his vanished wife is alive or dead. He is shocked one day to find his 3-year-old grandson Carlito on his doorstep. He hires Rose, a tough young Sicilian immigrant to cook and tend the child. Slowly, as these three lonely people form a household, the numbness around Delaney's heart starts to melt.

As in"Snow in August," the decent people have to cope with criminal elements that are a constant menace. But, thankfully, this story had a happy ending. One of the most beautiful scenes was in the next to last chapter when they go dancing.

"The lights were muted. The band was playing 'You Made Me Love You.' He put his right hand on her waist and took her right hand in his left, and they began to move. A fox trot. He could feel her tension, her fear of clumsiness. Then as she relaxed, she pressed against him. Here for a few hours, they could believe that they would be together forever. And so they danced and danced."

The paints I used for the background were Apple Barrel's "Wild Berry", "Denim Blue" and Anita's "Sand." I wrote the title and author with a Hunt 22 nib and Best Bottle ink. The ink did not work as well on the acrylic painted background as gouache. It tended to blob, as you can see in the dot over the "i" and in the loops of the "b" and "l". The text was written with a Pilot P-700.

I brushed the magazine photo with matte medium to reduce the shine, adhered it with double-stick tape, and dabbed the torn edges with Colorbox ink.

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